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How Big Data Makes a Small World

It all comes down to two numbers: 0 and 1. 
They mean off and on, or absence of power and presence of power in computer speak. This switch is the basis of digital data. In fact, the deeper you look at anything in nature, you’ll eventually encounter a switch. Your DNA is a sequence of switches. 
That certainly puts the “big” into “Big Data,” which is the subject of this month’s feature article from Linda Koco. Or more specifically, it’s predictive analytics. Simply, it’s why big data means big business.
Most of us are on the outside of the data forest looking in. But analytics tell you all about the trees without your having to venture in. According to Linda’s article, analytics will allow you to find out family status, purchasing habits, business development plans, health matters, employment, hobbies, credit history, interests, travel and more. 
Analytics would increase your efficiency by delivering prospects who are right for you. Agents and advisors can save precious hours they would have spent screening for clients. Not only that, it could help those who are in or want to out a niche. 
Even with all that, you still have to do old-school selling. Another feature this month helps with that. Publisher Paul Feldman interviews Sam Richter, the author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. What does the outmoded technology of talking through wires have to do with anything? Sam reminds us that it’s always the message, not the medium.
The days of thumbing through the phone book, then smiling and dialing are long gone. Who liked that, anyway? You were embarrassed. The person on the other end of the line was annoyed. It just was not the best use of time or self-esteem.
You now have the magic of big data at your fingertips. Linda explains that companies such as IBM are starting to offer analytics to agents and advisors, but you don’t have to wait for that. Not with Google and LinkedIn at your disposal.
Sam discusses how to use these tools to get the most helpful information. It really is amazing how much you can find out about someone in five minutes. We have a few good tricks in that article that you can put right to use.
So, now you don’t have an excuse for asking dumb questions in the initial discussion. No longer should you be asking about how many people work for someone’s company but rather confirming the number you found. Who has the patience for an agent or advisor who hasn’t bothered to find out the most rudimentary information about a prospect? It is not a matter of prior advantage to look someone up anymore. It’s a simple courtesy.
Even so, aren’t we all flattered when someone has taken the time to look us up? I’ll give away one of Sam’s tips here because I don’t want you to miss it. To put prospects at ease, you want to phrase what you know as, “I looked you up online to get some background because I know you’re super busy and didn’t want to waste your time with unnecessary questions,” or something like that. But then the magic phrase is: “And guess what I found?”
Who wouldn’t think, “What? What? What?” Anyone would be curious. So, you have engaged your prospect almost immediately.
It is all part of charming someone, being interested in him or her. That’s the insurance and financial advising business. Especially now as the focus in sales turns more toward client service and away from product pushing.
That’s big data and predictive analytics. It’s not about all the 1s and 0s out there, but rather what they all add up to.
Steven A. Morelli

Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Steve may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @INNSteveM. [email protected].

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